FOR 25 years, the police had not heard a thing from the BTK Strangler, a notorious serial killer who terrorised the Kansas city of Wichita and who used to taunt investigators by boasting about his horrific crimes to the media.
The city hoped that the killer had died - or perhaps been jailed for another offence.
Then, earlier this month, a letter arrived at the Wichita Eagle-Beacon with information on an unsolved killing in 1986. Enclosed was a copy of the victim’s driving licence and photos of her slain body.
The letter was the first clue that the 1986 killing of Vicki Wegerle might have been at the hands of BTK, an acronym the killer used for "bind, torture and kill".
The return address on the letter said it was from Bill Thomas Killman - initials BTK. The address appeared to refer to a now-vacant building.
Police will not say why they are convinced it came from BTK and the Eagle said it agreed not to publish several of the details in the letter that led police to the conclusion.
However, it is known that the letter contained a single sheet of paper with a photocopy of Ms Wegerle’s driving licence and three pictures, each showing the victim in a slightly different pose. Relatives said the licence was the only thing they know of that was missing from her home.
Police said they had no crime scene photographs of Ms Wegerle’s body because it was removed by medical service workers before officers arrived.
The letter has rekindled hope that modern forensic science can find some clue that finally will lead police to the killer.
By Friday, police had received 365 tips through an anonymous phone line and e-mail address, said Lieutenant Ken Landwehr, who has worked on the case for 20 years.